Paarl Royals tactical performance coach Lisa Keightley is leading the way for women in men’s cricket.
Keightley, a former World Cup-winning Australia batter, left her role as head coach of the England Women’s team earlier this year.
“As a coach, you always want to keep building and evolving, and to be going into the men’s game as the first-ever woman coach, is an aspect where I feel I can use my experience of coaching for the last seven to eight years, and hopefully add value to the Paarl Royals,” says the 51-year-old.
“I know a few other females in sport who have gone into the men’s set-up and they’ve always said that it’s been fantastic.
“For me, it’s about coaching and helping the players get a better understanding of the game and see it from a different perspective.
“By working with the other coaching staff, who probably have more experience in the men’s set-up, I can hopefully combine what we do in the women’s game and then have a look at how it can benefit the men’s game.”
Keightley says it was Royals’ director of cricket, Kumar Sangakkara who approached her about the role.
“I wasn’t extending my contract with England because it was tough for me during Covid to stay away from Australia for long periods of time. And then I first heard of the opportunity from Kumar, who was looking to get some coaches involved in the set-up with the prospect of getting a female on board for a different perspective to the game itself.
”It sounded like an interesting opportunity after we had a couple of chats, and I’m delighted to be joining the team.”
T20 cricket has progressed at a rapid pace since its inception in the mid-2000s, and Keightley says she’s keen on bringing her inputs from the women’s game.
“With England I was really big on the tactical aspect and bringing the analytical part into play and then working out strategies on which bowlers and which batters match up,” she explains. “So, it will be about working with our analysts, looking at teams with respect to our strengths and their strengths and how different players will match up against each other.
“My job will be to assist [head coach] JP [Duminy] and give him various options which we can consider.”
Quizzed if her move to work with a men’s cricket team will pave the way for more women coaches to follow suit, Lisa says: “I don’t see a reason why not.
“I’ve coached domestically and internationally for 17 years now so there’s definitely something that I can offer to the men’s game.
“As I mentioned, providing a different way of looking at strategies and bringing in some positive things from the women’s game should make an impact. I would love for more female coaches to come and contribute to the men’s game.
“An example of that is Matthew Mott, who worked with both the men’s and women’s teams. So if we could cross over like that, that would be pretty special.”
Keightley says she would also like to be part of next year’s inaugural women’s IPL.
“There is no doubt that I would love to get involved if the Rajasthan Royals have a team in the women’s IPL.
“I think if India do it well, their women’s team is going to be very hard to stop and they could really make a big imprint and get a lot closer to the other teams, and win some big titles because they’ve got some good players.
“I think for the Indian women’s cricket team, and the fans, they should get really excited because I think it’s going to create some really good Indian cricketers that can handle pressure and perform in big games, while also giving them more depth.”